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EA Martinez, JM Vazquez, J Roca, X Lucas, MA Gil, I Parrilla, JL Vazquez and BN Day

A 100-fold reduction of the standard dose for artificial insemination in pigs (3 x 10(9) spermatozoa in 80-100 ml fluid) can be used when spermatozoa are deposited surgically next to the uterotubal junction. The present study was performed to develop a technique for non-surgical deep intrauterine insemination in pigs without sedation of the animal. In Expt 1, sows were weaned, treated to induce oestrus and used to evaluate the difficulties involved in the insertion of a flexible fibre optic endoscope through the cervix and along the uterine horn. Deep uterine catheterizations were performed on each sow at 30-40 h after hCG treatment in the crate in which the animal was housed. The endoscope was inserted through an artificial insemination spirette, moved through the cervical canal and propelled forward along one uterine horn until the entire endoscope was inserted. In 30 sows (90.9%) no or minor difficulties were observed during insertion and in these animals the procedure was completed in 4.1 +/- 0.26 min. Insertion of the endoscope through the cervical canal was not possible in only one sow (3.03%). In Expt 2, endoscopic deep intrauterine insemination at 36 h after hCG treatment was performed in 15, 18 and 13 sows with 100, 20 or 5 x 10(7) spermatozoa, respectively, resulting in farrowing rates of 86.6%, 88.9% and 92.3%, respectively; there were no significant differences among groups. Farrowing rates after deep intrauterine inseminations were also not different from those achieved after standard intracervical insemination with 3 x 10(9) spermatozoa (control group: n = 48; 87.5%). Mean litter size (9.41 +/- 0.38 to 10.02 +/- 0.25) was also similar among the different experimental and control groups. In conclusion, endoscopic non-surgical deep intrauterine inseminations can be performed quickly in sows, and normal farrowing rates and litter sizes can be obtained after insemination with a small number of spermatozoa.

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EA Martinez, JM Vazquez, J Roca, X Lucas, MA Gil, I Parrilla, JL Vazquez and BN Day

A fibreoptic endoscope procedure for non-surgical deep intrauterine insemination in non-sedated sows has been reported. However, the endoscope is an expensive and fragile instrument, and is unsuitable for use under field conditions. The aim of this study was to determine the minimum number of spermatozoa required to maintain optimal fertility using a flexible catheter (1.8 m in length, 4 mm in diameter) for deep intrauterine insemination in 2-6 parity non-sedated sows. Crossbred sows were treated with eCG 24 h after weaning and with hCG 72 h later to induce oestrus. Deep intrauterine insemination was performed 36 h after hCG treatment in 117, 126, 60 and 69 sows with 15.0, 5.0, 2.5 or 1.0 x 10(7) spermatozoa in 10 ml, respectively. Weaned sows (n = 147) not treated with hormones and used for standard artificial insemination (AI) (two inseminations per oestrus with 3 x 10(9) spermatozoa in 100 ml) served as controls. The flexible catheter was passed successfully through the cervix into one uterine horn in 95.4% of the sows in an average of 3.7 +/- 0.09 min. Farrowing rates after deep intrauterine insemination with 15 or 5 x 10(7) spermatozoa did not differ from those of the control group (82.9, 76.2 and 83.0%, respectively), but a significant decrease (P < 0.001) was observed in sows inseminated with 2.5 or 1.0 x 10(7) spermatozoa (46.7 and 39.1%, respectively). In contrast, the number of spermatozoa inseminated did not affect prolificacy. Laparotomy revealed that the tip of the flexible catheter reached approximately the anterior third of the uterine horn. Although deep intrauterine insemination was performed in only one uterine horn, the percentages of embryos collected from the tip of both uterine horns 2 days after deep insemination were not significantly different. The results show that in comparison with standard AI, a 20-60-fold reduction in the number of spermatozoa inseminated and an 8-10-fold reduction in the dose volume can be achieved without decreasing fertility when semen is deposited non-surgically into the upper first third of one uterine horn.